If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. - Oscar Wilde
We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. - B. F. Skinner
No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. - Mary Wortley Montagu

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review: Ember's Secret by Catherine Peace / @FatedDesires @W_I_Promo @lexcade

Title: Solstice Quartet Book 1: Ember's Secret
Author: Catherine Peace
Publisher: Fated Desires Publishing
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance
ARC Received From: Fated Desires Publishing & Wickedly Innocent Promotions

Ember only wants two things out of life: to be reunited with her sisters, and to see people come back to her cafĂ©. Catering to people she never sees again, she experiences a loneliness that can’t be filled. As one of the last Whakamanu—a descendant of the Maori bird-god Tane—she has to hold on to the secrets of her tribe. Family first.

Gourmet TV personality Austin Garten, host of the popular show Back Road Eats, needs more in his life than Breadbasket America grilling. He’s tired of the safe routes, the easy and dependable foods that the Network loves to display. When his RV breaks down in Wyoming, and he learns about Kai, a Maori restaurant outside of Casper, his interest is piqued. Once he meets the proprietor, he realizes he’s wants more than just her food. He wants her. 

Ember isn’t too sure. The Solstice, the Maori New Year, is fast approaching, and with the heat in her kitchen ratcheting up, she knows she can’t keep her secret for much longer. But will Austin be able to accept her? Or will her secret drive them apart?

I love cultural folk lore. Almost all tales have a common thread yet none of them are the same. And while Ember's Secret centers around food, the addition of Maori folk lore made this endearing tale enjoyable from beginning to end.

Austin's love for food plus a decrepit RV lands him in the Middle of Nowhere, Wyoming, he meets a woman whose skill for food entices him to get to know her. She's beautiful, different from women he's known. There's an air of mystery that surrounds Ember that he wants to wave away until the woman underneath is revealed in all her exotic beauty. Except, Ember's secret is bigger than anything she's sure Austin's been exposed to and she doesn't know if her true form will bring them closer together or drive them forever apart.

One thing that really hit a nerve was Ember's love for her family. Her father was more a leader than a parent, her mother was dead, her two sisters gone. Yet she clung to the hope that one sister would be found and the other would come home, that her father would see and understand how much Ember loved to cook and how much she needed to. Cooking wasn't just something for Ember to do. It was connection to her late mother, a thread that kept her grounded to her culture.

I was really happy for the separation period Austin and Ember went through. It put Ember's secret into perspective for both of them because it wasn't just a phenomenon she and her family were blessed (or cursed) to experience. It was a part of who she was. Her swan was gorgeous but it wasn't what or who she really was. The woman she was every other day of the year was who she was. Austin got to know that woman first before he saw her swan, and I think that advantage really helped him realize that he'd still want her no matter what.

Folk lore and food. Separate, they are enchanting. Combined, they are consuming. This was a delightful story of cultures blending, of a family finding peace and partial completion, and how the love of food can break down walls and bring two people together to experience a life of love and laughter.

Catherine Peace has been telling stories for as long as she could remember. She often blames two things for her forays into speculative fiction—Syfy (when it was SciFi) channel Sundays with her dad and The Island of Dr. Moreau by HG Wells. She graduated in 2008 from Northern Kentucky University with a degree in English and is still chasing the dream of being super rich and famous, mostly so she can sit around in her PJs all day and write stories. When not being a slave to the people in her head, she’s a slave to two adorable dogs.